Why Retail is the Best Contact Center Training Ground
I have had several discussions recently with both CRM industry professionals and individuals who have worked in both contact centers and in retail.
And they agree that one of the best training grounds for any contact center agent or supervisor is in retail on-the-floor sales. So when recruiting and assessing applicants contact centers should consider fast-track those who have had success in that field.
Here are the reasons:
* Retail requires employees to quickly identify and read customers and to step in at the right moments with offers to help or when the customers initiate the interactions, and connect with them. The staff is trained to look for cross-sell and upsell opportunities based on what items buyers are looking at or talking about and to stay with the customers until they complete the transactions, say “no thanks” and leave.
* Contact centers are moving to a retail experience from a purely call experience like the old-fashioned order entry calls. Today’s e-commerce sites note, track and through live chat, engage with customers. Agents must then be proactive rather than reactive.
* Retail is CRM, especially including Social CRM and loyalty. The object is to please the customers so that they will return and to tell others about what they bought and their excellent experience thanks to the very helpful staff.
* Staff must have the ability to remember customers. This vital skill enables them to maintain and enhance relationships.
* Retail sales staff members are goal-oriented; retailers set sales targets that the stores and employees must meet. Satisfying customers permit making and exceeding the objectives, with the psychic dividends of seeing them happy that reflects jobs well done.
* The hours and shifts meet demand as they do in contact centers.
* For supervisors there is constant turnover and with employee screening, training and coaching. Managing workforces can be hectic what with variable shifts and time off requests while ensuring there are enough workers to staff the stores. Managers are constantly under the gun to step up performance and productivity while handling issues like customer complaints. In retail employee—and customer—management is up, close and personal
By the same token retailers like to hire individuals who have contact center experience and training. Why? Among the reasons are the abilities to think quickly and act appropriately and to work under pressure while maintaining composure.
Many firms also require their staff to make manual or preview-dialer-assisted outbound calls to inform their local customers such as of special offers, store events and sneak previews of new product lines. Of course there are the customers who call the stores looking for information. Who is better equipped to handle these than those who have worked in contact centers?
And from a supervisory perspective, those who have managed contact center agents know all too well the challenges of keeping enough employees available, bringing them up to speed and staying on top of performance, productivity and service/quality issues. They are accustomed to dealing with metrics and targets.
Retail experience for prospective contact center agents and managers is not enough. They must be trained for the contact centers with its different—including confining—environment and service pressures.
The RCCSP Professional Education Alliance offers arguably the most comprehensive set of classroom, virtual and optionally on-site contact center training available: from customer care to support and in all aspects of supervision and management including coaching and workforce management. It also provides certification of these essential contact center skills.
“The RCCSP Professional Education Alliance brings together the world’s biggest and best training companies from the United States, all with long-standing and deserved reputations for quality content, experienced instructors, and outstanding customer service, through a single point of contact,” says Nina Kawalek, RCCSP Professional Education Alliance’s CEO.
Brendan B. Read is TMCnet’s Senior Contributing Editor. To read more of Brendan’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Rich Steeves